Cox Dodges iPhone Question

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is getting its mitts on Apple's new iPhone, so does this mean its key partners, including Cox Communications Inc. , will too? (See Apple's Latest Is a Faster 3G 'Worldphone'.)

Cox is evading the question. "Our handset strategy is to offer customers a competitive lineup that provides customers a choice," a Cox spokeswoman said via email. "We have something for everybody -- from the easy-to-use feature phone to state-of-the-art smartphones -- and we will continue to evaluate our handset portfolio and offer new devices along the way."

The Cox Wireless smartphone lineup is currently Android-heavy, and the MSO isn't saying if it will be able to draft off of Sprint's new deal with Apple, which reportedly comes at a steep cost. The Wall Street Journal says that Sprint's on the hook to buy 30.5 million iPhones and won't break even on the deal until 2014. If Sprint's to be saddled with that much hardware, it will need all the help it can muster to move the merchandise, making Cox a logical candidate.

But how much help Cox can give remains a big question. The MSO, which is piggybacking its wireless service on the Sprint network, expects to have mobile services launched in half its markets by the end of the year. The privately held MSO has not revealed any wireless subscriber figures, but did note Tuesday that it has nearly doubled its projected subscriber forecast. [Ed. note: Which, by the way, still tells us nothing.] (See Cox Wireless Clears California , Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum and Cox Chucks Wireless Network Plan.)

If Cox should get the iPhone, it could be the first U.S. MSO to do so. Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) of Canada introduced it in 2008.

Or Cox could be one of many MSOs to join the iPhone club, eventually, as other cable operators weigh their wireless options. Among the more popular, speculative scenarios, there's some belief that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks have talked to Sprint about swapping their Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in exchange for an equity stake in the wireless carrier. (See Does Cable Have a Wireless Plan B? and Cable May Plow More Cash Into Clearwire .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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